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October 18, 2012

Newest Mommy Peeve - Inaccessability

Sure enough, back when you were a kid, you had to spend a day or a week (or whatever) pretending to be someone with a physical disability - whether it was not being able to walk, use one hand, see, etc. It was difficult, surely, and it gave you just a minute glimpse into the challenges people with physical disabilities face on a daily basis.

Well, when you become a mom, you understand this even more. I now pay particular attention to businesses and restaurants that are not wheelchair accessible and have even commented to some owners. It is not only cumbersome, but nearly impossible sometimes, to navigate a gigantic stroller up curbs, through doors without wheelchair access, up stairs and into shops that are packed with merchandise you were certainly knock something over. I've had to take a buddy shopping sometimes so I could browse through the shop while my buddy waited at the front door. 

Here's what I've encountered in the last 6 months: 
  • Some (if not most) businesses do not have automatic wheelchair accessible doors. 
  • Many, many restaurants and public washrooms do not supply a change table (Isabelle's been changed in the car, car seat, restaurant bench, table, sink - come on!!)
  • Recently, I went to a restaurant that used their handicap accessible washroom for storage - is this even legal!?
  • Stores with only stair access - the owner had to help me carry the stroller in and out
  • Many mall stores that don't have change rooms big enough to accommodate a stroller/wheelchair. One salesperson suggested I leave the baby in the store while I change behind a closed door - ummmm no thank you. If they do have large change rooms, they are often full of boxes (see washroom example)
  • I even went into a store that didn't allow me to take the stroller into the store while I shopped because it may damage the clothes! Needless to say, they lost my business instantly.
Luckily, there are a few businesses that excel on this front. Many malls are accommodating moms - and families - offering nursing rooms, large change rooms, larger door openings and automatic entry. Some individual stores have offered to allow me to use their large change room to feed my baby, change her diaper, etc and others have gone out of their way to ensure there was enough room in the store to navigate with a large stroller. And of course, there are always kind people around who are quick to offer to open a door when they see me struggling to get it open.

I'm not asking for any special treatment as a mom, but I do empathize with those who need to deal with this on a daily basis - it's not easy. And for those who wheel every day - I hope all businesses start to adapt to better serve all customers, every day.

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